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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 109 - 5/7/2003
The Broom Closet Revisited: What’s Your Current Occupancy Rate?
Are you living more or less in the broom closet since last year? Does the current political climate make you more or less open about your beliefs with strangers or casual acquaintances than you used to be?
Are you worried or have you ever seriously considered that a modern day ‘witch hunt’ might target Pagans in the next few months/years?
Have you taken extra precautions to protect your private information or Pagan identity on the internet? At work? In your neighborhood?
Are you more or less inclined to speak up and/or identify yourself as a Pagan when discussing or writing about political, religious or social issues these days?
| Reponses: There are 129 responses posted to this question.
|| Reverse Sort
| Quietly Watching From The Doorway ||May 10th. at 6:13:19 pm EDT|
|Storm's Feather (Russellville, Arkansas) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I normally stand in the door way about being open with my religion. Reconstructionalism isn't well know, and it's hard to explain, besides the constant threat with living in the Bible Belt of the U.S.. I've been called "Witch" in a classroom with 9 hard-core Christians and 3 (including myself) 'others': a Goth of religion i'm not certain but she's open minded, and a Wiccan. I was insulted, but i swallowed any retorts i had and stood my ground. I didn't agree or disagree, since they didn't ask me what my religion is.
Normally, if someone asks me what religion i am, i say Reconstructionalist. This is normally followed by "A what?"
"I research past religions and study their gods to see how they worshiped. Did you know that..." followed by a long discussion on how holidays became known as they are, how the 'Devil' got his name, how other religions have been around so much longer than Christianity, blah blah blah. This bores them to the point where they leave. Works for me.
I'm very worried that a 'Heathen' Witch-hunt will start sometime soon. President Bush isn't an average citizen, he has no clue what it's like to be 'one of the People'. Remember, his daddy was Pres, so he's lived in the White House and under supervision, protection, and benifits. He rallies the majority in this country by waving around what they believe in most: God.
I actually have part of my pagan identity on my backpack, but few people ask me about it.
| OUT...but... ||May 10th. at 8:23:10 pm EDT|
|Caer (FL) ||Age: 36 - Email |
I am most definitely out of the broom closet...but...I am careful when I talk to people. I tend not to volunteer information unless I'm "comfortable" with the people around me. "Comfortable" not in the sense that I am sure they will agree with my beliefs - "Comfortable" with the feeling in the room. If I don't feel that I at least have an idea about how people will probably react, I will not volunteer anything. If I am asked I answer honestly that I am Wiccan. It really is a shame! My family is Christian and most of them are very open minded, ask questions and are very supportive and interested...my husband is very fundamental so we rarely discuss it at all. It always leads to a huge fight with him getting downright nasty...comments such as "you are going to burn in hell" and the likes. I cannot be bothered fighting with him because I don't feel the need to defend the fact that I am Wiccan. "This is who I am...take it or leave it" kind of attitude. I don't expect him to agree and that's fine...he just needs to learn how to respect my beliefs and "agree to disagree".
My 13 year old daughter, on the other hand, loves to shove the fact that she's Pagan down his throat. It is good to see her stand up for her beliefs! She is pretty careful when she is out with others who she volunteers information to. She says "Mom, it sucks that people don't respect our beliefs and they get to shove how they feel down our throat!" So, I ask her..."Do you feel it necessary to defend yourself by arguing and forcing YOUR beliefs down others' throats?" She says "No, because I feel SECURE in what I believe; it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says!" Then she is quiet for a moment, looks at me, smiles and says "OK, I get it now!" :)
| Quietly Into That Good Night ||May 10th. at 10:09:43 pm EDT|
|Traci (Knoxville, Tennessee) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I've been out of the broom closet since the beginning. I have never had any beef with my Christian upbringing and still use a lot of things I was taught. One of those things was that you must stand up for what you believe in no matter what and all I can say to anyone that would try to take my freedom of religion away from me is "bring it on." If it comes down to it even Bush would be hard put to take away our right to bare arms. Growing up in the mountains of East Tennesse I know how to use a gun if needed to protect myself and my property, and yeah if it came down to that they'd prob get me... but not without a fight. However, first and foremost we must have faith in our political system... the men that fought so that this country could have her birth and wrote our Constitution knew what they were doing. The system works if we take back control of it from the idiots that think only the large groups of ppl with the most money deserve to have a voice. We must vote, we must convince our friends to vote. I'm writing a second coming of age ritual for my children based on my families custom of taking an 18 year old to register to vote on their birthday... the day they recive their "voice". We have to get involved or yeah, it's going to get bad, it's going to get ugly, and it's not going to get any better.
| Open Up! ||May 10th. at 11:40:26 pm EDT|
|Ru (Clemson, South Carolina) ||Age: 22 - Email |
I have never really been in the broom closet. I started on my current path at the age of fourteen. Not feeling that I should have to hide my beliefs, I proudly professed my Paganism. In retrospect that might not have been the best idea here on the buckle of the Bible Belt. I am in some ways more in the closet, because I am more cautious with whom I discuss my beliefs. I don't feel that I can turn around completely and go back in, for several reasons. One, I still believe that an individual should have the freedom to express themselves, that they have the right. I also feel that someone has to be willing to speak up with a difference of opinion to help those that are less sure and more timid. Two, too many people already know! Three, it just feels wrong. However, I have to say that their is a time and place for every discussion. That is something I wish teen pagans would realize more. Sometimes it doesn't get you anywhere to stand up and shout your opinion. It's important to skillfully pick your battles. I admit, this is a recent realization for me.
I am worried only slightly about the prospect of a modern day "witch hunt". I guess I don't want to admit it could happen. I DO think that are civil liberties in general are always at risk, though not as much as some would have us believe. The way to avoid withc hunts, though, is to be a conscious citizen. Vote. Go to town meetings. Work in the community. Be invovled and be informed. Apathy and ignorance are the greatest danger to our liberties, because the people that would take them away are well organized and THEY participate in government.
Online I am more cautious about my identity, but only because I don't trust people online as far as I can throw them. Obviously, as far as networking is concerned you have to make concessions, but I feel the biggest danger is not due to any religious issues, but to the fact that there are some real creeps out there. Some of them are even Pagan.
In the wider world, I am cautious as well. It is not necessary information for people to know. I never lie if asked, but it rarely comes up. There is no real reason to discuss it, especially at work. Why do they need to know why you're out of work on February 2nd? I think there is a real tendency to feel confrontational because as Pagans we expect conflict. I think that attitude only promotes conflict. Basic fact, not everyone you encounter needs to know.
Basically, I think my outlook comes down to considering your audience. Who are you speaking to? I only identify myself as Pagan when it serves a greater purpose, when it advances positive public perception, or when aske d directly. I don't feel the need to broadcast my beliefs, though to broad range of bozos out there.
| I Was Never In The Broom Closet ||May 11th. at 3:10:37 am EDT|
|Fred Geisler (Ann Arbor, Michigan) ||Age: 40 - Email - Web|
In a very real sense, I never was in the broom closet. My realization that I am a Witch played out in full view of the participants in an online forum.
Perhaps six months after my realization, my neighbor and his dog-walker probably found out, as I forgot to dismantle my household altar before leaving on a trip, and they took care of my dog for me.
I've been more hesitant about letting others physically close to me know. Still, at this point, I think everyone that works in my department knows.
| In Or Out? ||May 11th. at 5:59:09 am EDT|
|Starlight Bunnybutt (FL, USA) ||Age: 26 - Email |
There's a part of me thats in the broom closet (and the closet) where I need it. I have to do this thing called "work" in this place called "the bible belt", ya see. I wear a pent, but it's not a large one, and I try to be discreet about asking for days off for "religious purposes".
When I'm not anywhere near work (or my landlord) , I'm out and proud. And I wear big boots just in case someone has a problem with that. Would I be worried if someone I work with saw me at a "Pagan Pride" event? Not really. Would I walk around waving a sign at work saying "It's your God, you worship him"? No. (I do have a T-Shirt that says "Godless Heathen" on it though I wear when I'm not working.)
We're all different people depending on who we're talking to I think. The workplace is no venue for a fight as far as I'm concerned.
| Open But Not Screaming It ||May 11th. at 11:32:09 am EDT|
|Shyanne (Bakersfield, CA.) ||Age: 22 - Email |
I'm open where ever I am. I wear my pentacle but don't hide it. If people have a question they ask me. I don't tell anyone that I am pagan unless they ask or bring the subject up.
| Sort Of Both... ||May 11th. at 12:13:41 pm EDT|
|Nokomis (OK) ||Age: 25 - Email |
The friends I have online that I know wont freak out and tell me I am going to hell know. The ones that will don't.
I don't wear a pent, don't even own one. I do sometimes wear a tree charm necklace, but no one ever asks about it.
Offline, my sisters, one aunt, mother, husband and son know. No one else in my family or my husbands family knows. I don't have to go out of my way to hide it, when the topic of religion comes up, almost never, I just nod and smile most of the time. When prayers are said, I lower my head out of respect for their beliefs, but do not recite them. In my case there is no real benefit to my "coming out", I practice alone except for the infrequent times I include my son, and my being open about my beliefs would cause a large strain on my collective family, especially with my inlaws.
I'm not Wiccan so I don't even celebrate all of the holidays, mainly having very small observances of the season changes only. With the exception of Halloween which I've loved since I was very young, but again I don't make a huge deal of it. That too I celebrate on my own in quiet darkness, last year I chatted with my great grandmother who departed when I was very young.
Since I am a solitary, and I follow no "official" path I feel no compulsion to attract attention to myself. I've been magickally inclined for most of my life, but I have no degree's and do not follow a "Religion" of any sort so I don't even make a strong example of the majority of the Pagan population. Thus I have no reason to be out to more people than I already am.
Similarly I am out to even fewer people about being Bi-sexual, because while I've found women attractive since I was about six and even been in love with a couple, I've never acted on it. Thus there isn't much to talk about in that direction either...
| My.. It Sure Is Dark In This Closet.. ||May 11th. at 4:29:14 pm EDT|
|Aethereal Star (South Carolina) ||Age: 16 - Email |
well.. honestly, i have been in the broom closet since i was 11 but current event's don't make me not want to tell my parents. In fact it makes me want to tell them more. I might even tell them today or tommorrow.
I don't fear witch hunts and i don't conceal my pagan identity on the net. I love the internet because it is a place where i can truly be free. I am less inclined however, to tell the general public that i am a wiccan. it might not turn out very well in a town that has 12 christian churches within a 12 mile radius. :)
| Yes I Am Afraid ||May 11th. at 5:04:39 pm EDT|
|SilverFalcon (Camp HIll Pa) ||Age: 20 - Email |
Yes in some ways I am afraid of a witch hunt. When I first started practicing. My parents called the police and had them try to arrest me for studying it. They said I was worshiping the devil and I was going to sacrfice my brother. I tried to explain to them but they didn't understand. So I had to practice very privitely. I would go over to my friends house . My mom knows I do something now. But they are people in my area that would do anything to get rid of the pagan groups in the area.
| Peeking Out The Door, But Turning Towards Narnia ||May 11th. at 5:16:26 pm EDT|
|Faye Dragonsbaine (MA, USA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Oh how things can change with the turning of the wheel...
This year I've changed so drastically, but I suppose that comes when one begins living outside the house for the first time, with college. With it, comes a certain freedomI have exercised in stepping out... joining up with the local community, and enjoying being a member among them and making new friends and bonds of friendship... its so nice not to be lying about my beliefs anymore. However, soon I head back to my families home, and.. once again, I'll be so deep in the closet, I'll let you know if I find Narnia .
The current political climate makes me slightly wary, and i think any intelligent individual would be. Pres. George W. Bush's logically often falling towards a fundamentalist Christian view, him pitting the war with Iraq as almost religious due to his way of speaking about it, the laws he's trying to pass (Patriot Act) ... I do fear if this continues for long, what we will see. My heart's with ACLU.
As far as protecting myself online.. I like the anomyity factor. I do use a pen name as is quite obvious as well as one particular email address which recieves all my email that deal with religion.
I want the prospect of of freedom, to spread my wings and be myself.. yet, I know the atmosphere won't allow such yet. To wait.. as long as necessary, I have the patience.
| Flying High On My Broom ||May 11th. at 5:22:31 pm EDT|
|Bluemoon (NY) ||Age: 43 - Email |
Although I always been a very private person, most people know I am pagan. My family thinks in just means 'not christian' but my in-laws are very aware of my feelings on religion. The main reason I came out with them (maybe not the best of reasons) is so hopefully I would be ostisized from the family, it worked. Also, I am extremely tired of the constant preaching. If you are polite with them and say you don't believe the same, please stop, they are more determined. It got ugly, but I feel I have the right in my own house to be treated with respect.
As far as a witch hunt is concerned, I really don't think so. Although I am wondering why they are refurbishing the concentration camps in the midwest where the Japaness Americans were held during WWII. They must be getting ready for something. Also, Bush is not quite the Christian he would like the country to believe he is. Actually he is a Free Mason and a member of the illuminati. I think maybe the christians have more to worry about than we do, and they won't even be looking for it. I do feel, though, that something will blow soon.
One person wrote that Bush couldn't take away our constitutional right to bare arms (I hope not) but if his new bill passes he will take way our freedom of speach. All the media in a given market being owned by one company is unconstitutional, much like the patriot act. We will be told only what they want us to hear. It looks like he will get away with it. What will be next? Research on the Patriot Act is very frightening. (www.truthout.org)
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